WB Archive Collection: DVDs On Demand!

Features, Shorts, Live-Action and Direct-To-Video
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WB Archive Collection: DVDs On Demand!

Postby Ben » March 24th, 2009, 5:30 pm

Very cool idea, allowing for officially made DVDs but without the marketing push that would normally prevent these kinds of titles from coming to wider retail:

<B>Warner launches manufacturing-on-demand service
Consumers can order from 150 classic movies</B>

MARCH 23 | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group is launching its own, branded manufacturing-on-demand operation, offering films and TV on DVD titles whose limited sales potential have prevented a traditional retail release.

Starting March 23, consumers can order 150 classic Warner movies at new studio site WarnerArchive.com for $19.95 each. The studio will ship a made-to-order DVD, in a shrink-wrapped Amaray case with cover art, to consumers within five days of purchase.

Some of the new-to-DVD titles listed at WarnerArchive.com include Possessed, starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford; Once Upon a Honeymoon, Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers; and All Fall Down, Warren Beatty, Eva Marie Saint. Others include Sunrise at Campobello, The Citadel and Mr. Lucky.

Warner intends to add 20 classic films and TV episodes each month to the MOD service, dubbed ‘Warner Archive Collection,’ and expects 300 titles will be available by the end of the year.

At this point, Warner’s MOD offerings can only be bought at the WarnerArchive.com site. But as demand grows, the titles might be available to order at other retail outlets, according to the studio. Also, the service is currently limited to producing titles on standard-definition DVD.

The site offers a try-before-you-buy feature, with which consumers can watch a 30-second clip of the film before finalizing the purchase transaction.

Warner has long been one of the more aggressive studios in releasing its older library titles on DVD, but the studio realized there was a lot more it could be doing to satisfy fans. Warner houses 6,800 theatrical films, of which just 1,200 have so far streeted on DVD.

“We release a lot of ‘first time to DVDs’—there have been around 30 to 35 already in this year’s first quarter—but we’re not making a dent in getting all the movies out to the people who want them,” said George Feltenstein, senior VP of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Home Video. “And now, we are releasing more new-to-DVD movies on Monday than we have released during all of last year.”

Feltenstein said that the launch titles were based on the volume of consumer requests the studio has fielded over the years.

Likely upcoming TV additions to the MOD service, said Feltenstein, include Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Bourbon Street Beat, Bronco, Lawman and Hawaiian Eye.

Debbie Reynolds, whose The Mating Game is among the MOD launch titles, will head up a publicity blitz for the service. She will appear on The Today Show and Access Hollywood to chat about its rollout.

Amazon.com has been backing MOD for some time with its CreateSpace service, with which filmmakers can customize DVDs to sell direct to the public. However, Warner believes its own service represents the most extensive MOD offering from a major studio to date.

“We are the first studio to lead the way on this,” said Feltenstein. “We like to be the ones who innovate.”


Here's the site page:
http://www.wbshop.com/Warner-Archive/AR ... lt,sc.html


Three or four there already that I'm tempted by, including <B>Doc Savage: Man Of Bronze, in its original theatrical aspect ratio</B>, Rand!! :)

My list so far: The Big Circus, Doc Savage, Captain Nemo And The Underwater City, and a couple of others more out of interest than anything else.

Buy 'em while you can...who knows how long this'll last?

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Postby Randall » March 24th, 2009, 8:28 pm

Largely the same tastes, here... I have Doc Savage in OAR on LaserDisc already, but it's great to see it coming available to a new audience. Not sure if it's worth the DVD upgrade to me, as it would be $30Can or so, with the exchange rate now; and the laser still looks pretty good, from what I recall. Captain Nemo was the other one that caught my eye. (Never seen it, don't know much about it, but it sounds cool.) I hope this is successful, as it would be great to see more titles made available. Jerry mentioned at CartoonBrew that it would be neat to see titles such as the MGM theatrical cartoons finally released in this fashion.

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Postby GeorgeC » March 25th, 2009, 12:03 am

I wish I could say there were tons of things in the list that I looked at that appealed to me but I just couldn't see a lot of things.

Most of the classic live-action WB that I DO like is already in boxsets and I don't know about other people but I'm years behind on a bunch of that stuff! (That includes the remaining Film Noir sets I'm interested in as well as the last two volumes of WB Gangsters.)

WB sure isn't making animation set releases much of a priority beyond the newer TV series releases and direct-to-video DC Heroes movies.

I'd like to see releases of the MGM animated theatrical shorts they haven't done but perhaps with a bit more attention and carefulness. You know, actually get a GOOD film curator and restoration team that seems to care about the material?!?

(Granted, animation is a niche market but it doesn't help when they just don't show 98% of those films on TV anymore unless your name is Chuck Jones or Walt Disney... Even Disney has been backing away from the "Walt" part of its history and overall film library going on at least 12 years now.)

The concern I'd have about this direct-to-order business is that A) it sounds a lot like DVD-R; reference video groups and ask me a few questions about the problems with DVD-R; B) you already know it's going to be light on extras (IF ANY) besides menus because of the nature of a bunch of these films (GEE, they sound like films a lot of people want! NOT); and C) going back to point B, can the point be made that a bunch of these films are fairly obscure to most people unless you're a bed-ridden 24-hour-a-day Turner Classics Movie fan?

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Postby Randall » March 25th, 2009, 8:09 am

In their HTF chat this week, WHV confirmed that these will NOT be DVD-R's.

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Postby Ben » March 25th, 2009, 10:57 am

While I'd agree that animation could be served in this way, it's clear these are just a way to get the large bulk of feature releases out there that wouldn't reach record breaking sales numbers.

So what if they come sans extras? We're guaranteed decent transfers better than boradcast TV or the composite TCM masters, and they come pre-packaged and on "proper" DVDs to boot.

I already have Doc Savage and Captain Nemo from off-air TCM recordings, but losing that logo in the corner is a big attraction, as is having a pressed DVD as opposed to a compsoite, interlaced DVD-R.

I love this idea (missed the HTF chat...is the link on the Bits as always?) and can't wait to see what 20 films a month they start adding.

Roll on THE POWER...!! :)

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Postby Daniel » March 25th, 2009, 1:22 pm

Yah, here's the full Transcript. Totally slipped my mind, unlike the last one.

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Postby Ben » March 25th, 2009, 4:22 pm

Interesting tidbits...

Actually not much happening that we didn't know about or expect (Gone With The Wind, Wizard Of Oz for Blu, though the thought of <I>new</I> new transfers is appealing).

Nice to see some of the rare titles being spoken about and, indeed, sounding like they are coming at some point (The Big Parade, more Tarzan, the Monogram Chans, the long-awaited Complete Show Boat Collection, the exciting The Prize, the quite amazing Greed, etc) and more Esther Williams.

The promise of a comprehensive Magnificent Ambersons set is juicy, plus finally the announcement of the restored A Star Is Born!

Reissues and debuts for Nothing Lasts Forever, Spies Like Us and Over The Rainbow sound groovy, especially if Nothing Lasts Forever - a <I>completely brilliantly</I> screwy movie, comes with the Bill Murray supplements they've been trying to clear for ages now.

Sad that Superman and Superman II on Blu-ray will continue to be the new versions only and not the original theatrical cuts, but I guess they may eventually come.

But <I>great</I> to see the Archive Collection will be shipping worldwide, the promise of 200 more titles before year's end and that - yes - The Power <I>is</I> indeed one of the titles being prepared!

As well as that, shorts fans can look forward to loads in 2010, including the McDoaks, Dogville (YES!) and Pete Smith Specialties, with the promise of cartoons too. Who wants to bet this is how they package up the remainder of the more lacklustre WB cartoons?

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Postby GeorgeC » March 25th, 2009, 6:03 pm

Sure, there are mostly lackluster WB shorts left.

The bulk of what was released in the 1950s-1960s and beyond is NOT on my list of "to-get" shorts and certainly not much of anything by Robert McKimson, either.

However, DID WB include the first appearances of Bugs Bunny (prototype aka "Happy") and Daffy Duck (1937) in their Golden Collection sets? How much more is missing from the 1930s and 1940s besides the racially sensitive shorts?

There's still plenty to be mined there.

(Times like this make me wish I HAD gotten all the Golden Age of Looney Tunes LD sets! At least I have the bulk of the other Turner LD sets and single LD releases and a few of the WB character-specific LD releases.)

What WB has been doing for a while now has been very aggravating to the Golden Age of Hollywood animation fans. Whether WB and MGM apologists want to admit it or not, the Disney character set releases in their Treasures Collections have been far more comprehensive and chronological with fewer of the problems that have plagued the WB releases.

I know I'm saying all this again for the millionth time, but it's worth repeating for the people who just don't get it or haven't let it sink in yet. The bulk of the people in the home video departments of the major studios are CLUELESS about what films, TV shows, and theatrical shorts their corporations own. The big reason why the early-to-mid 1990s were such a golden age for animation on laserdisc was because there were people in the home video departments at both Disney and Turner/MGM who understood there were fans for classic films and animation -- and these people did their jobs and accomodated the fans.

WB needs its own animation czar -- a PROFESSIONAL filmmaker fan who understands films and not a self-appointed critic (that pretty much eliminates the bulk of the people who regularly post online) -- for the classic shorts and they desperately need to schedule more of these shorts at reasonable times when people are likely to see them.

If WB wants to really sell animated short collections on DVD in very good numbers, people have to be exposed to these films. The old VHS editions of Looney Tunes collections were platinum sellers in their day partly because the classic shorts were still being broadcast on television!

One thing I have noticed is that some of the channels airing WB-owned feature films (pre-1970s) have been filling in the time left over from the features with classic Looney Tunes shorts. These channels are NOT TCM, TNT, or TBS -- channels owned by the WB conglomerate. You would think the WB-centric channels would air more of the classic shorts than they do. I would say the vast majority of people living on this planet in the first world are USED to seeing animated shorts paired with features -- especially if they were active moviegoers prior to 1980.

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Postby Ben » March 25th, 2009, 6:44 pm

So about that old Archive Collection...

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Postby GeorgeC » March 26th, 2009, 3:46 pm

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/ ... 32609.html


" the discs will be burned rather than pressed which raises obvious concerns over longevity, although a proprietary burn technology is being used that Warners feels is much more reliable than what one can do at home on one's own computer. Warners guarantees the quality and will stand behind it."


***************


If that's not DVD-R it sure still sounds like it!

I don't know what advantage and cost-savings there is to burning versus pressing to be frank.

I would think pressing would be both faster and more reliable.

This is definitely something that the end-user has to keep up on.

Granted, the DVD format has generally been far more reliable than either VHS and LD to date but believe me as an end-user who has done plenty of burning of custom DVDs that DVD-R and its offspring leave a lot to be desired sometimes...

ImaginAsian TV did have a program somewhat similar to this a few years back where they offered vintage (1980s) anime. They sold low numbers of these series but the project ultimately failed. There were numerous reports of DVD-Rs failing after a period of time or discs just not working in the first place. On top of that, the replication plant hired to burn the DVD-Rs went out of business.

Now, I don't expect WB or its contractor to go out of business but I do hope that however they're handling the burning that it's more reliable than the system ImaginAsian used...

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Postby Ben » March 26th, 2009, 5:16 pm

I think this is something of a compromised technology which, rather than "burning" the discs one by one at fast speeds (and therefore with more risk of bad pits and the like), actually "presses" the disc file onto the disc, providing a more reliable "recording" process.

Then again, knowing that even properly glass mastered pressed discs only cost less than $5 even in short runs, I can't see why WB wouldn't just go that route, perhaps making up 500-1000 at a time on the title runs. They're still making tons on that $20 list cost, and to think that they don't have much manufacturing cost other than the remastering of old masters...they'd easily break even and start making money.

But...better than nothing, and if they're guaranteeing them, then all we can do is hope they'll honor any discs that go bad (though the betting is that this are DVD-5 files anyway and so could easily be backed up).

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Postby GeorgeC » March 26th, 2009, 10:58 pm

Regardless of how WB plans to "burn" to order on these releases, there's just nothing in that list that really interests me.

Not even a scrap of animation that I could see, either!

At least WB announced plans to add at least another 50-75 films a month to the Archives.

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Postby Ben » March 27th, 2009, 7:07 am

20 films a month, George. Just 20, but with the promise of 300 by the end of the year.

Animation and comedy shorts will come in 2010/11, and if you look closely there are three or four titles there that may appeal to animation and visual effects fans. I'm about to post on this for the front page, but although there are no direct animation titles, there are some there from fillmakers with very strong backgrounds and links to animation.

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Postby GeorgeC » April 15th, 2009, 12:50 am

A CNET preview of the WB Archive Collection program --
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10213915-1.html


Good news and bad news.

Bad news -- early PS3's don't handle the discs well.

Good news -- most DVD players handle the discs fine.

Uncertain -- how well these discs will hold up versus pressed discs. That's MY big concern.


Thanks to The Digital Bits for the link!

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Postby Ben » April 15th, 2009, 4:26 pm

Thanks George.

I'm still really thrilled with this idea. Knowing that the only other alternative is waiting for these to show up on TV, what is the problem?

On TV: they'll be cropped, with a logo in the corner, edited, cut to commercials every 20-30 minutes, etc.

I knew going in that these were basically either old TV, VHS or LD masters being used, but even here the titles have been getting anamorphic upgrades. And some get a trailer here and there?

Basically, I can either DVD-R them off TCM with a logo and have to cut the ads out, or I can pay a bit and have a much better compressed version in official packaging and with a guarantee on the discs.

What's there not to like? The $20 cost? Well, although I agree $15 including shipping would be more appetizing, there's always the alternative...